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Expert Contributor

Working remotely from home is the dream for many people, but it brings a unique set of challenges. Before you commit to clearing out a spare room in your house, be sure you've covered all the angles. Here are some things to think about before starting.


Furniture and Equipment

Will you need to buy additional furniture or equipment, or can you repurpose pieces you already have? If your job requires access to specialized equipment, your employer may allow you to take it home.

What about lighting and ergonomic furniture? Don't underestimate the physical toll of squinting at a badly positioned computer screen in a too-dark room for hours. Give your eyes and back a break and invest in a comfortable setup. This may include an adjustable desk, a chair with neck and lumbar support, and lightbulbs that simulate natural daylight.

How much will you need to budget for decorating? That depends on what you're using your office for. If you're videoconferencing, you will need at least the area around you to be free of distractions and professional looking. If you plan to bring clients in, your entire home office will need to make the right impression.


Technical Issues

When you're working from home, security is your responsibility. If you have valuable equipment, it's a good idea to invest in proper storage for it. You'll also want to brush up on your state's laws on the safekeeping of sensitive client information. You may be required to encrypt data or have a safe of certain specifications for storage.

How will you handle tech support when something breaks down? Your equipment may come with a service warranty, or you may be able to get tech support coverage for an added fee. Also, it's a good idea to make friends at local electronics stores or repair centers.

If you live in a humid area or are converting a basement into an office, make sure it's a dry, mold-free environment. Remember, you'll be breathing that air for eight hours per day, and moisture and mold can damage expensive equipment.


Manage Distractions

It's important to get the family on board and be sure everyone understands that just because you're at home doesn't mean you're free. You can set up a dry erase board outside your space with your 'office hours' written on it or hang a poster that explains 'Don't knock unless someone's bleeding or something's on fire.'

You'll also want to reduce distractions. This may include choosing a quiet room if you live near a busy street, installing productivity and time management programs on your computer, and removing the TV set. Many people also buy a second, clients-only phone. They use it during office hours to stay focused.


Tax Breaks and Tax Risks

One big advantage of setting up a home office is that it can lead to a significant tax deduction. However, like everything related to the tax code, the laws around this are complicated. There are also limits to how much and what you can deduct. You may find it useful to have a consultation with a tax advisor before you start. The big risk is that taking this deduction may bring more scrutiny from the IRS. Keep your books immaculate and always file on time.


Shakti S. has been a freelance writer since 2012 and has a strong background in English with experience in copywriting, editing, and translations. She has taken on DIY projects and worked with professional designers and home repair agencies, and continues to learn more about home and yard decoration, maintenance, and repair.